Monday, July 1, 2013

Northern California Part 1: The Redwoods

I love to combine trips.
So after planning a trip to visit my Auntie M near San Francisco, I thought, why not swing by the Redwoods.
What was going to be a half day detour, turned into three wonderful days in Northern Cali.
We stopped by the Bonneville Salt Flat on our way.
Looks like snow but tastes like salt! (I tasted just a little.)

Most of the road trip was painfully boring, so we listened to this to keep ourselves busy.
We stayed in Central Point, Oregon with a delightful couple we found on Airbnb.
For the record, I would totally turn hippie for western Oregon.

After 14+ hours on the road, we met these...

In a word, the Redwoods are enormous.
It is hard to put in perspective how these massive beasts dwarf the forest.
Jeremiah Smith Redwoods State Park was my favorite park.
Part of it was because you always love your first Redwoods (isn't that how that saying goes? No? Just me?), but the people were far and few between so our experience was quiet and contemplative.

The best drive is the Howland Hill Road (bottom left photo), a gravel road that took us about 45 minutes to drive. It was cold out but we drove slow so I could stick my head out the window for that fresh, beautiful, it-just-rained-yesterday smell.

On a whim we picked up a tripod the day before our trip.
I LOVED it. We can both be in pictures!
However, testing out the timer proved to be a work out. I kept running back and forth, adjusting this and that. I really want a remote control.
Next up, we drove through Del Norte Redwoods State Park.
It was all moody fog and towering trees.

A mixture of driving and hiking is the best recipe.
We veered off the 101 at mile marker 16 for the unmarked trail head for the Damnation Creek trail.

Damnation Creek is not a misnomer.
This hike was damn intense.
Half way through I was shaking my fist at the forest shouting, "damn you, trail!"

It was steep and muddy, but it was beautiful.
The end of the trail was this deserted and beautiful rocky coast.
Considering we only saw one other person on the trail, I was sooo grateful that we lugged around the tripod.
I generally try to avoid tourist traps, but when given the option to drive through a tree, you just have to.
There are three popular drive through trees and we picked the first one that we saw, the Tour Thru Tree.

Here is where traveling off season really pays off. We had the entire tree to ourselves for about 20 minutes.
After hearing friends tell about waiting in line for an hour to drive through, I can see why they thought it was overrated. I thought it was just rated (you know, not overwhelmed or underwhelmed, just whelmed).
Worth the $5.

Seriously. It took us 7 tries to get one that worked.
We obviously need to practice synchronized jumping more.

We spent that night at the Patrick's Point State Park campground, which overlooks the coast.
We strolled down to the tide pools the following morning.
A local marine enthusiast was kind enough to tell us what was up.

I just love how the starfish cling to the rocks.
We ventured into Trinidad during the day and at The Lighthouse, home of the mashed potato cone.
That's right. Mashed potatoes, gravy and brisket in a waffle cone.
The sleeper town is worth a quick bite before heading on down the road.
Redwoods National Park

We detoured to Ferndale where Victorian houses live strong.
The town is famous for its "butter palaces," which are big, beautiful homes built my dairy tycoons.

We ended our sojourn with the Avenue of Giants in Humboldt State Park, where we camped at Burlington Campground.

It was almost twilight as veered off the 101 onto the scenic Avenue of Giants.
The disappearing sun peaked through the leaves as it turned dark.

We intended to only spend a couple of hours here, but ended up staying a day and a half.
The Rewoods will do that to a girl.
It will suck you in.
It's best not to fight it.

Next up, San Francisco!

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